Sunday, 25 August 2019

M Michele's Musings

Is There?

Recently, as I was driving to work I noticed the beauty of the trees I passed. They were so tall and majestic, flourishing and green stretching to the sky as if in praise. However, one of the trees had a huge dead limb in the midst, marring its beauty. The wind was blowing. I watched the limb sway from the force of the wind. I had the fleeting thought that in its weakened state the limb might come down, crashing below and possibly hit me, someone or something; bringing harm to all in its way. I contemplated some truths concerning this tree. The dead limb did not die overnight. It took time for the limb to arrive at that state. The limb was seemingly still strong as it held fast to its place on the tree. The tree otherwise looked healthy; yet, it had this huge dead limb in its midst indicating that all was not well.

Thoughts of what unforgiveness does to a person came unbidden into my musings as I contemplated the dead limb. Unforgiveness never starts overnight. It slowly seeps its ugly way into our lives and soon it begins to literally kill the love and life we once had for one another. It happens in relationships all the time. Hurts come; some unintentional and some intentional. No matter, left unchecked those hurts can lead to resentment, bitterness and unforgiveness. The bottom line is that unforgiveness kills. It is a poison to our hearts. It is a poison to our lives. It is a poison to relationships.

Many of us walk around looking as though we are healthy and flourishing. We bear fruit in certain areas. We are planted where we need to be planted and we are steadfast. We give refuge to family and friends within the circle of our influence and yet there is the ‘dead limb’ of unforgiveness in the midst of all that is good in us. Some of us won’t acknowledge the “dead limb” is there. Many of us hide the unforgiveness in our hearts very well. Then there are those who don’t care who knows that they have hatred for another in their heart because they are so hurt. Some even wear the “dead limb” like a prized badge of honor for all to see and feel justified in holding on to their unforgiveness.

However, just like that limb did not die all at once, so it is with unforgiveness. Left unchecked and undealt-with unforgiveness begins to kill the love in our life. Just like that dead limb makes the whole tree sick over time, so unforgiveness infiltrates our lives and makes us sick at heart. When the wind blows the limb sways, weakening the limb further. Oftentimes parts of the limb snap off and fall where they may. These dead limbs will eventually crash below leaving damage to other parts of the tree, the ground and any unsuspecting life in its way. In the same way, when the ‘winds of life’ blow into our lives and touch that sore spot in our heart we often react in anger or frustration instead of responding with understanding and kindness. Anger rises in our hearts and pulses forth its ugly reactions. Harsh words fly from our lips and we may even physically strike out. This in turn hurts the person and/or people that happen to be in our path when we lose control.

A tree surgeon often knows just what is going on when parts of a tree are dying. He diagnoses the root problem and then begins to take steps to fix those problems. He uses any number of methods to heal the tree by; i.e. exterminating parasites, using proper nourishment and pruning so that the tree can come back to life and good health. He diligently works to save the tree so it can again be a blessing to all eyes, bear fruit in season and provide a safe place for all that might rest within the trees majestic beauty or beneath its shady boughs.

God is no different than the arborist. He wants to see us whole and healthy. God wants to heal us from the unforgiveness which is poisoning our hearts, whether it is hidden from seeing eyes or displayed outwardly for all to see. He knows that undealt-with unforgiveness only hurts us and kills the love that is in our hearts. God wants to lovingly heal the hurts that have taken over and hinder our relationships. It is not an easy process and we must take active steps to let Him heal our hearts. It means we might have to ‘exterminate’ some things like thoughts of self-pity, hatred, animosity and vengeance. It means that we need to feed ourselves with God’s word and God’s truth about forgiveness. It means we need to submit ourselves to God’s pruning which is often painful but in the end brings new life.

I do not think of myself as an unforgiving person. However, there have been times in my life when people have hurt me deeply. These hurts caused me inexpressible pain. I cried nights away with the hurt. I didn’t know how to deal with it. Unforgiveness began to settle deep in my heart. Anger, bitterness and hatred began to kill the love I had for these people. I am not one to express these feelings but I avoided the people that hurt me at all costs. It pained me to be around these people though some were family and I was forced to be in contact with them. To be truthful, I was embarrassed and ashamed of the way I felt but didn’t know how to fight the thoughts and let go of the hurt. Those that hurt me didn’t have a clue how I felt. They were sleeping peacefully every night while I was tormented beyond measure.

I was like that tree. I looked healthy on the outside but inside I was dying. Love was dying. Like that tree my ‘dead limb’ was losing strength and parts were breaking from the ‘winds of life.’ There were times when someone would innocently hit a nerve concerning the people who had hurt me and uncontrollable reactions would spew out of me on any unsuspecting person in my path bringing even more hurt. This cost me greatly and to this day I am still reaping from some of those reactions. Those reactions caused a catalyst of happenstances that have affected my life and everyone in my life that I love.

But God is good. He is my ‘Tree Surgeon!’ He knew the hurt and pain I was experiencing. He saw my brokenness and heard my cries. It seemed as if every time I went to church the pastor would preach on unforgiveness and it hit a nerve. God was pinpointing the root of the problem through His word preached by the man of God. He wanted to heal me. I had to be willing to face the truth, forgive the hurts, let God heal, listen and obey His word. Forgiving someone is not always easy but according to God’s word it is not an option. It is a command. Colossians 3:13 “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” God used this same man of God to give me sound advice that lead me on the path of healing from the unforgiveness and everything that comes with it. The pastor said every time that the hurt, pain and unforgiveness wanted to raise its voice in my heart over God’s voice to go to God in prayer and ask Him to help me. To ask God to help me with the thoughts, heal the hurts, and help me obey His word. He said to keep going to God every time a thought arose even if I had to go to prayer seventy times in one day! God would heal me and He would take all the hurt, the pain, the unforgiveness, the anger, the guilt from me. What wonderful, God Given advice! I took this advice and indeed God was faithful to answer my prayers.

The most wonderful thing that I learned from this life lesson is that when I finally choose to obey God’s word concerning forgiving these people it brought a new wholeness to my life. It brought such healing and freedom that I can’t even begin to explain or express it in words. The love that I thought had died in my heart rose again. The relationships began to flourish again all because I chose to obey God’s word and let Him heal the hurts. I was like a butterfly let loose from its cocoon. The shackles twisted around my heart were broken and I was filled with inexpressible joy and it had taken wings, just like the butterfly. I knew that forgiveness is a gift from God through Jesus to us, but, what I learned is that it is a gift that is a true blessing to oneself as well as those that it is bestowed upon. Forgiveness is an indescribable gift to be shared because it truly sets the captive free.

Do you have a dead limb in your tree or worse, several dead limbs? Are those dead limbs breaking and bringing hurt to everyone that is within the shade of your tree? God wants to heal you but you must let Him. He won’t begin the work without your permission and willingness. God made you for love. Unforgiveness hides that love. Let Him be your ‘Tree Surgeon.’ Let Him heal you back to wholeness so that you can be all that God has called you to be. Your tree can be beautiful, fruitful and a safe haven for all who may be within its branches or shade. With no ‘dead limbs’ of unforgiveness in the midst of your heart you can be His love personified, reaching out as far as your ‘branches’ may stretch.

Love in Christ, Michele


Columnist: Michele's Musings

Picture Michele Abshire is a housewife, mother, grandmother, and full time legal assistant. She has been published in Lake Charles, Louisiana publications, Christian Star Newspaper and Gumbeaux Magazine.  

Michele began writing notes of encouragement to people God put on her heart which led her in the direction of writing short encouraging stories, letters, essays and analogies.  This quickly became a ministry for her.  

Michele's vision is to reach people with encouraging messages that will lift their heart and bring joy for sorrow and hope for discouragement. Michele enjoys your feedback so leave a comment in the form at the bottom of the page or email her at  micheles.musings@gmail.com

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